some days are a real test of your will. a bit of backstory, perhaps.
i was called to do a session for john’s upcoming record some time back, and i dutifully packed up my miscellaneous instruments and the like and headed off to hoboken, nj, to the pigeon club, where john is working on the record with producer t-bone wolk. john expressed an interest in possibly working together in a live capacity, so i started rehearsing with the band roughly a month ago…and this show on sunday was to be my live audience trial by fire. BUT – the thing is, i didn’t know until saturday that i was playing the show at all, and didn’t know when i had to be there until early sunday morning, when john called to tell me that load in was at noon.
well, the problem with that was that i had to be in hatfield to pick up my newly modded out fender vibrolux reissue around that time…and i didn’t really have another amp that would do the job in my possession at the time. so i jumped out of bed after i got the call, into the shower and then into some clothing, and went flying out the door in the direction of my amp techs’ house to retrieve it for the gig and get to havana in new hope as soon as i could for load-in.
i got to tim warneck’s house and put the amp through its paces – tim wasn’t happy with the sag that the tremolo was causing in the circuit, and we agreed that i’d bring it back to have the transformer replaced when he finished working on the princeton reverb that i dropped off as i was picking up the vibrolux…but i digress.
we rolled the vibrolux out the door and into the car and i took off for new hope to get my gear loaded in as soon as i could…i made good time, and got there just as geno was roping off the back parking lot. turns out, they’d only just gotten there a short while before me and they were busy setting up the PA. “just put your stuff over there, and we’ll give you a shout when we’re ready for you,” he says.
so i dutifully head back out to start bringing my gear in, and i pull the flight case outta the trunk, unload the guitars, and start looking for my large black laptop bag that holds my cables, pedals, capo, slides…all the miscellaneous stuff that you just can’t do a gig without.
seriously. no bag.
then i remember – i had taken the bag out of the car the night before when i brought in my lap steel and mandolin to restring them, and i left the house in such a rush that i left it sitting next to the sofa.
now, i need to point out at this point that this is one of the most rookie, amateur, dick moves that a musician can make…leaving their gear at home. also, i need to point out that i absolutely hate being the “i need” guy. i’ve spent enough time around “i need” guys in my time, and it brings my blood to a boil.
“dude, do you have a 9 volt battery?”
“hey, man, you wouldn’t happen to have a spare E string, would you?”
“yo, tom – can i steal your capo, dude?”
but – what do i hate more than that guy? being that guy.
so once my stuff was inside, geno told me that they had some setting up to do and that they wouldn’t be ready for me for a while. so we slipped away into the back and i whipped out my iPhone and found that there was a dave phillips music in flemington, NJ about half an hour away that was open on sunday. so i told geno that i was going for a ride to run an errand, and that i’d be back in roughly an hour. i picked up a tuner, a capo, and a cord for a total cost of $106.80 and turned around and hightailed it back to havana.
it should be noted that i’m now solidly in the red for the gig, thanks to my own ignorance.
so…i’m plugging directly into the amp, with nothing between my guitar and the amp but a cable. no stompboxes, no volume pedal, none of the usual buffers that exist between the guitar and the amp.
i put on a brave face, didn’t say anything to anyone about what i’d done (because that’s exactly the wrong kind of impression to make on a first gig – “…uh-oh. this is one of THOSE guys…”
and – thanks be to the gods, dave phillips music, and tim warneck, it went off without a hitch.
the amp sounded phenomenal…when i got it, it had been retrofitted with weber replacement speakers by the previous owner, but apparently the job was a little sloppy and one of the wires that ran from the cone to the terminal block was shorted and the amp was running on one speaker. plus, after tim evaluated the amp, it was painfully obvious that it had been dropped in shipping, as there were some loose components in the chassis. this all goes a long way towards explaining the crappy performance i was getting from it when i first tried to put it through its paces.
no more, though. it was clean and warm all the way up to 7 or 8 on sunday, and it breaks up just enough at 8 to sound like it’s supposed to at that volume. tim did the vibroverb mod on the amp, adding the negative feedback that’s missing from the original design of the amp, and it’s a huge, huge improvement.
john and the band did four songs and then called me up after they’d gotten things started, and i never sat down again. i had thought that we’d do the material from who the hell is john eddie that he’d had me learn, plus some of the cover stuff he’d sent me, but he ended up plowing through two full sets of stuff, and he never dismissed me…so i kept playing. i kept one eye on kenny aaronson’s left hand for the whole show, and aside from one regrettable clam in “skynyrd”, it went pretty well – lots of complements from folks at the gig, and from the crew as well.
the pic was taken by my new myspace friend, sunny, who was at the gig and took an assload of pics of the band that you can see at her page.
happy birthday, john!